COURTS & LEGAL

Donald Trump and three eldest children set to testify Nov. 6 in civil fraud trial

Oct 27, 2023, 3:16 PM

(Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)...

(Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)

(Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump is set to testify Nov. 6 at his New York civil fraud trial, following his three eldest children to the witness stand in a case that threatens to disrupt their family’s real estate empire, state lawyers said Friday.

It was already expected that the former president and sons Donald Jr. and Eric would testify. The timing became clear Friday, after Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that daughter Ivanka Trump also must appear, rejecting her bid to avoid testifying.

The schedule sets up a blockbuster stretch in the trial of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit. She alleges that the former president, now the Republican front-runner for 2024, overstated his wealth for years on financial statements that were given to banks, insurers and others to help secure loans and deals.

Donald Trump returns to civil fraud trial, with fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen set to testify

Trump denies any wrongdoing and has called the trial a politically motivated sham. The case could strip Trump of some of his corporate holdings and marquee properties such as Trump Tower. James and Engoron are Democrats.

Donald Trump and the two sons are defendants in the lawsuit, but the state is initially calling them to the stand before the defense begins its case. The defense can then call them again.

In a surprise preview, Donald Trump ended up briefly testifying Wednesday to answer Engoron’s questions about whether an out-of-court comment was aimed at his law clerk. The judge had earlier barred participants in the trial from talking publicly about court staffers.

Trump said his remark wasn’t about the clerk; Engoron called that testimony “not credible” and fined Trump $10,000, on top of a $5,000 fine imposed days earlier over an online post about the clerk. Trump’s lawyers paid both fines on his behalf but still might appeal them, according to a court filing Friday.

Donald Trump Jr. is now set to testify next Wednesday, brother Eric on Thursday and sister Ivanka on Nov. 3, though her lawyers may appeal to try to block her testimony.

Trump is fined $10,000 over a comment he made outside court in his New York civil fraud trial

An appeals court dismissed her as a defendant in the lawsuit in June, saying the claims against her were too old. Ivanka Trump announced in January 2017, ahead of her father’s inauguration, that she was stepping away from her job as an executive vice president at the family company, the Trump Organization. She soon became an unpaid senior adviser in the Trump White House. After her father’s term ended, she moved to Florida.

Her lawyer, Bennet Moskowitz, told the judge Friday that state lawyers “just don’t have jurisdiction over her.” One of Donald Trump’s attorneys, Christopher Kise, maintained that state lawyers “just want another free-for-all on another of President Trump’s children.”

“The idea that somehow Ms. Trump is under the control of the Trump Organization or any of the defendants, her father — anyone who has raised a daughter past the age of 13 knows that they’re not under their control,” Kise said.

However, the state’s lawyers argued that Ivanka Trump was a key participant in some events discussed in the case and remains financially and professionally intertwined with the family business and its leaders.

Engoron sided with the state, citing documents showing that Ivanka Trump continued to have ties to some businesses in New York and still owns Manhattan apartments.

“Ms. Trump has clearly availed herself of the privilege of doing business in New York,” Engoron said.

During her years at the Trump Organization, Ivanka Trump was involved in negotiating and securing financing for various properties, including a lease and loan for a Washington hotel and loans for Trump’s Doral golf resort near Miami and a Trump-owned hotel and condo skyscraper in Chicago, according to court filings.

According to the New York attorney general’s office, Ivanka Trump retained a financial interest in the Trump Organization’s operations even after leaving for the White House, including through an interest in the now-sold Washington hotel.

In court papers that included emails and other documents, the state lawyers said the Trump Organization and its staff also have bought insurance for Ivanka Trump and her businesses, managed her household staff and credit card bills, rented her apartment and paid her legal fees.

In 2021 federal disclosures, she reported $2.6 million in income from Trump entities, including revenue from a vehicle known as TTT Consulting LLC. A company bookkeeper testified that TTT was set up for her and her brothers to reap a share of fees from some licensing agreements.

___

Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.

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Donald Trump and three eldest children set to testify Nov. 6 in civil fraud trial